Following the news that Allen Iverson was set to officially announce his retirement from the NBA, Gary Payton took ownership of his potential role in AI's infamous 2002 "practice" rant during a segment on Fox Sports Live.
Iverson had asked Payton how he stayed in such great shape and was always able to remain on the court, and Payton said, "I told him for real that my coach, George Karl, didn't let me practice. That was it. I said, 'You have to stop practicing.'"
The rest is history.
Without Payton, perhaps we never would have heard such gems as, "I supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. We talking about practice."
"The Answer" continued: "Not a game. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it's my last. Not the game. We talking about practice, man. I mean how silly is that?"
Skipping ahead of a number of "practice" lines, Iverson added, "When you come into the arena, and you see me play, you see me play, don't you? You see me give everything I got, right? But we talking about practice right now."
He concluded by responding to a reporter's question: "How the hell can I make my teammates better by practicing?"
In his 17-year career, Payton averaged 16.3 points, 6.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. He played 80 or more games in a season 12 times.
In his 14-year career, Iverson averaged 26.7 points, 6.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. He played 80 or more games in a season three times.
Perhaps Payton was onto something.
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